We packed our bags and took a five hour bus ride back to World War II. Our destination was the historic city of Taierzhuang. This historic battleground was an important railroad and canal city and continues to have great significance for Chinese historian war buffs. The Japanese army during World War II were considered unstoppable prior to 1938. The Chinese had not been successful up to this point and China was loosing territory quickly to the Japanese. The city of Taierzhuang was an important gateway to Shanghi and the occupation of Taierzhuang was critical to both the Chinese and Japanese military. Taierzhuang is a unique city with low stone buildings, narrow streets and a network of canals. The architecture and terrain made military combat extremely difficult for the Japanese. Over 100,000 highly trained Chinese soldiers congregated in the streets of Taierzhuang to fight to the death in “hand to hand” combat to protect Taierzhuang. In April of 1938, the Chinese army did the unthinkable! They defeated the Japanese army and finally made advancements to regain their land from Japan.
The bridge you see above is the old bridge leading into Taierzhuang. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the Chinese and Japanese troops battling right where I stood. The Japanese army was known for their huge, steel and unstoppable tanks, but the narrow streets and deep canals made the use of tanks and heavy artillery impossible to navigate. The other advantage to the Chinese army was the low stone buildings. The walls of the homes and buildings protected the troops as they awaited the arrival of the Japanese army. The Chinese military tricked the Japanese military and disguised themselves as ordinary Taierzhuang villagers and farmers. Little did the Japanese army know. These were not just ordinary villagers. They were highly trained Chinese soldiers ready for battle. The city of Taierzhuang sustained much damage from the war, but the Chinese won a major historic battle and finally stopped the unstoppable Japanese. Taierzhuang has been rebuilt to much of it’s original glory. Visitors flock to this ancient city and remember this historic event. They reflect on the brave soldiers and civilians who lost their lives to protect China. My experience to Taierzhuang has been amazing. I am learning not just the language and culture, but also a little about Chinese history. I never considered myself a war buff, but this is pretty interesting.